The people claim that they descend directly from the Dacians (Romania's oldest inhabitants) and were never conquered by the Romans. There might be some truth in that, especially when you compare their features - blond and with blue eyes - with the Romanians - mostly dark hair and brown eyes. Anyway, the people kept their traditions high and many folk events are still part of daily life. The region, the Maramures Mountains, are a superb environment to make beautiful hikes.
The mountains are up to 1850 meter and mostly covered with foliage trees. They are part of the Carpathian Mountain range and extend far in the Ukraine. The villages are located along the rivers in the valleys. The farmers don't grow much crop in Maramures but breed cows and sheep on the lower hills surrounding the villages. The villages are often closed entities dominated by one or even more beautiful wooden churches.
Some of these churches are many centuries old and are decorated inside with fantastic frescoes. Another attraction brings also a lot of tourists to the region. One century ago Transylvania, Maramures and Bukovina had a dense network of narrow gauge forestry railways. Most of them disappeared except in Maramures and Bukovina. Daily small steam engines run along the beautiful Vaser River deep into the mountains to haul logs. The trains have a passenger car as well and you can travel with the harvesters up in the mountains.
We prepared your beautiful trip around the small town Viseu from where the forestery line starts up in the mountains. You walk from the Viseu Valley to the Iza valley where you find the finest wooden churches in the village Ieud and Poienile Izei. At the end you go up in the mountains with the steam train and get back again on foot. You sleep in guestrooms and your luggage will be transported from location to location.
Highlights of the program:
- The beautiful wooden churches from Ieud: There are 2 wooden churches. Higher Wooden church dating back from 1364 (oldest church from Maramures). The Ieud Codex or the oldest written document in Romanian was found here. (now it is in Bucharest) Best-known paintings from Alexandru Ponehalski (1782) The part of the village around the higher church is may be most representative example of the authentic Maramures village. Lower church: from 1718, with very high roofline.
- Poienile Izei: Wooden church with scary frescoes of Hell from the 18th century. This was some kind of rulebook to scare sinners. Certainly worth a visit.
- Botiza: known for handmade carpets, woodcarving. Wooden church from 1700, originally built in Viseu de Jos and moved in 1900 to Botiza. There are mineral springs near the village.
- Narrow gauge forestry railway along the Vaser river.
- Wooden churches in Sieu and Salistea de Sus.
- Visit beekeeper, artisan distillery, watermill.
- Museums in Dragomiresti and Ieud.
Day 1: Arrival in Viseu de Sus, accommodation in guestrooms. Ioan Sabou, our local co-operator (who speaks English) will bring you to the first guesthouse. In Viseu de Sus begins the forestry railway. Viseu de Sus is a small town where most activity is linked with the wood industry. The place grew after the Romanians had to built a new main line into Maramures because the country lost a small part of it's territory to Ukraine, after the 2nd World War.
Day 2: Hiking trip to Salistea de Sus. It’s a trip from the Viseu Valley to the Iza Valley. It a nice trip through the hills, over pasture and hay land and scattered parts of forest. You walk along the Ciunca hill (847 m) and will enjoy the panorama’s over the bible_ mountain (1800 m) and the Pietrosul Rodnei (2303 m), the highest peak from the Eastern Carpathians. The village Saliste is the first village of the authentic Iza valley, world wide known for its wooden churches. hiking: 5 hour, 450 m climbing, 400 m descending.
Day 3: Hiking trip to Dragomiresti. Short hiking trip in the surrounding hills. In the village Dragomiresti is a nice museum and lady Maria (the house keeper of the museum) will show you a lot of authentic objects.
Day 4: Hiking trip to Ieud. It’s again a hiking trip in the surrounding hills. Ieud has the best preserved village center of Maramures. It’s located around the church on the hill, (oldest wooden church in Maramures dating back till 1364) In Ieud is a small private museum.
Day 5: Hiking trip to Botiza. A roundtrip along the Ieud river and the Botiza river. Botiza has a lovely wooden church. The village is known for it’s handmade carpets.
Day 6: Hiking trip to Sieu. Hiking trip over Poienile Izei where you certainly have to visit the church. She’s superbly decorated with frescoes inside. Those frescoes were often made as a guide or rule book for the people and especially the women were warned to behave well. It goes further to Sieu. You stay with lady Ioana, teacher in Sieu.
Day 7: Ioan Sabou, will pick you up in the morning and will bring you to a beekeeper, a local distillery, a watermill and show you how people live, will explain (show) you typical customs. In the late afternoon you will be brought back to Viseu de Sus where you stay for the night.
Day 8: Trip with the narrow steam locomotive along the Vaser river. In Romania there are still working narrow gauge steam locomotives. (about the last ones in Europe). As you will notice, time is not important and physics have other laws along the Vaser. It will be a wonderful experience in a world you hardly could imagine it still exists. In the evening you should get back in Viseu (can be anytime between 4:00 pm and midnight).
Day 9: Hiking trip in the Maramures Mountains. It’s a lovely roundtrip at the other side of the Viseu River along open fields, a settlement and through dense forest. Evening back in Viseu de Sus.
Day 10: The program ends after breakfast.
Also see tour packages in:
Europe Romania Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Archeology/History